The Ghost Town that was an RV Park….no wait, that’s not right

Richard Charpentier Arizona, Ghost Towns, Notes from Rich, Photography 4 Comments

stanton-1In actuality, it should read the RV park that was a ghost town.  That describes today’s adventure, however, the title still works for me, so there.

Being in Arizona makes me a lucky guy.  I enjoy it here, enjoy the outdoor activities, and I’m enjoying my new ghost town quest.  The places are interesting.  All started with a set of buildings in Yarnell, and now look.  I’m hunting these places up.  Pretty cool!

Since the gallery is closed on Monday’s (I’m usually in there printing) I decided to take a quick trip to the former town of Stanton, AZ.  It’s another ghost town as listed by Arizona Highways ghost town book.  A very cool book in total, but I have to take issue with how dated it seems to be at times.  Today was no exception.

We headed off to Stanton a little after 10 this morning.  The standard trip when heading to Yarnell.  Skull Valley, Peeples Valley, Yarnell, then the “big” drop off the ridge.  If you haven’t driven route 89 then you don’t understand the big drop.  If you have driven 89, did you do it with a trailer in tow like I did almost 2 years ago?  Knuckles still white???

The landscape changes dramatically dropping down from Yarnell.  Suddenly there are Saguaro cactus and Joshua trees.  What a difference it makes between high desert and low desert.  It’s all different.

We drove down a dirt road for quite a way.  From 89 Stanton isn’t very far, but the washboard roads make it feel like an extremely long journey.  Excitement was building.  A substantial site so close to home!  Wow!

As we neared Stanton I noticed a sizable RV park in the distance.  Acres were covered with the easily spotted row after row of trailers and big rigs.  So far out on a dirt road, and a rough dirt road at that.  What an odd place for a park.

Approaching the park I noticed a few older buildings in the center.  They reminded me of the photos I’d seen of Stanton.  They reminded me a lot of the photos.  Just as we were passing by the park I realized, “This is Stanton.”

The Titan got turned around, and we pulled into the park to get a closer look.  So many trailers.  A much larger park than Point of Rocks.  So far off the beaten path.  The sign indicated that it was a LDMA park.  You should check in at the office.

stanton-2Sadira and I both had no idea what an LDMA park was, so we entered the office and asked.  “Lost Dutchman Mining Association.”  An interesting club to be sure.  Check out their web page and take a read.

The ghost town book from AZ Highways mentioned LDMA taking over the Stanton site and reopening it to the public.  But I had no idea what that meant until we arrived.  A sea of RV’s.  Quad after quad buzzing around the area.  A few old buildings in the middle of all of it.  A ghost town hemmed in by a live community of RV’ers all doing the same thing.  Seeking gold in them thar hills……

We decided to walk the area.  The office clerk was pleasant, there was no fee for site access, and we were welcome to look around and take photographs.  That was a plus.  The negative was trying to shoot the old buildings and artifacts with so many modern items around.

The old Stanton Hotel is still in use by the LDMA.  A satellite dish is perched along one side of the building.    RV’s pretty well pop up in every shot if you’re not careful.  And everyone seems to have a four wheeler or a quad of some type.

As we walked between the rows of RVs, gold panners would buzz by us on their 4 wheelers.  Mining and panning equipment adorned their off road vehicles.  Heck, mining equipment was next to every RV.  Dirt piles next to many, the dirt clearly sifted to find some dust, a nugget, or a sizable chunk of gold.

stanton-3I didn’t feel totally comfortable.  This was more of a private site than public in my mind.  Many people busily working away to find whatever may remain in the hills.  Stanton was a place of violence and treachery, where people sold each other out for a nugget, and the promise of many more.  The fact it was still active made me feel like something of an intruder.  Something like the feeling I had when I visited Oatman.

Stanton lacked the razor wire and heavy feeling of Oatman.  That place is still extremely active, and it produced a lot of gold.  The mining operations there are for the professional, not the amateur.  Stanton is clearly for more amateur operations, a fun diversion, etc.  So the heavy feeling of Oatman far outweighed today’s odd sensation.

In the end as we drove away we saw one couple outside of their RV.  A husband and wife team, clearly retired.  They were running some type of sifting equipment, and piling the useless dirt near their trailer.  Each looked up at the Titan, then right back to the work at hand.

Don’t get me wrong.  Not picking on the LDMA by any stretch.  They’re not only preserving the last few buildings of Stanton, but they’re also preserving the memory of what built the town.  The quest for gold lives on.  Maybe an outsider to the community can’t fully comprehend it.  I’ll look into getting a tour someday.  Maybe I can get more of an idea on “panning for gold.”  Clearly it’s a intriguing hobby.  If it wasn’t would so many people be out there doing it?

Comments 4

  1. Even while on the road we always make a point of logging onto your site to see what you’ve done new in the way of HDR photography and what new subjects you’ve chosen. Again, we’re not disappointed! Almost to Death Valley, have about two hours of driving left to go. Cheers!

  2. These places always feel treacherous when there’s any kind of mineral for profit involved…I mean, when you’re working for yourself, and not a company. It’s a feeling beyond creepy…more of a sinister thing.

    I think it wasn’t as heavy as Oatman because there wasn’t as much surviving and we didn’t go into any of the existing buildings, maybe?

    Whatever…I still felt like I was being watched and evaluated…very strange indeed.

  3. Rich, if you haven’t . . you should make a couple of trips to Quartzite, one in the summer, one in the winter. An amazing difference as the tiny population soars to nearly a million in the winter. A rockhounder’s paradise.

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